'She's a Sweet Girl' — Orlando Shooter's Wife Grew Up in the Bay Area - NBC Bay Area
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'She's a Sweet Girl' — Orlando Shooter's Wife Grew Up in the Bay Area

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    On a quiet street in Rodeo, about 45 minutes from San Francisco, residents were shocked to hear that their neighbor was the shooter's mother-in-law. (Published Monday, June 13, 2016)

    On a quiet street in Rodeo, about 45 minutes from San Francisco, residents were shocked to learn their neighbor was the mother-in-law of the man who opened fire inside an Orlando nightclub early Sunday, killing 49 people in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

    Many learned the news from reporters who camped out up and down the broad suburban street on Sunday night: Their neighbor, Ekbal Zahi Salman, a widow and mother of four daughters, was linked to gunman Omar Mateen.

    "[The shooter] was married to her daughter. I was surprised. It was a shock. Nobody can imagine that," said Rajinder Chahal, who lives across the street from Salman. "Yesterday my wife talked to her. She was weeping."

    The profile picture from the Facebook Page for Noor Zahi Salman aka Noor Mateen, identifed by a friend as the wife of the shooter.
    Photo credit: facebook

    Neighbors said Salman had four daughters, didn't speak English very well and lost her husband a few years ago. All described her as kind and normal.

    They said her eldest daughter Noor Salman married Mateen and moved to Florida about five years ago.

    Simrat Chahal, 19, said his mother and grandmother sometimes chatted with their neighbor across the street.

    "I find it really disturbing," said Chahal. "I actually didn't expect it from their family, you know? I'm not saying that that was their intentions too. But it just so happens to be that they're involved and that's tough on them."

    His grandmother, Sarwan Kaur, said Ekbal Zahi Salman cried as she complained to her neighbors that Mateen wouldn't let her eldest daughter visit her.

    "Like, even when she was in the hospital, her husband wouldn't let her come see her own mother," Chahal said.

    'She's a Very Sweet Girl:' Orlando Shooter’s 2nd Wife Grew Up in the Bay Area'She's a Very Sweet Girl:' Orlando Shooter’s 2nd Wife Grew Up in the Bay Area

    'She's a Very Sweet Girl:' Orlando Shooter’s 2nd Wife Grew Up in the Bay Area
    (Published Monday, June 13, 2016)

    Kaur, who hails from India's Punjab region, spoke in Punjabi about her friendship with Ekbal Zahi Salman, which began 17 years ago when she first moved across the street.

    "We were friends from the very beginning," she said. "The girls were all very nice; I watched them grow up. Noor is a very nice and sweet girl."

    Despite the language barrier, the Kaur and Ekbal Zahi Salman grew close, visiting each other acros the street, Kaur said.

    "I don’t know English, so it was more like, 'Hi, Hi, Bye, Bye,'" she said. "But Ekbal and I chatted quite often. She would never eat anything in my house because we have a dog."

    Kaur said Ekbal Zahi Salman’s husband died of a heart attack about 10 years ago. She said the Salman girls were close to their father, whom she also described as a nice man.

    The couple’s youngest daughter, who is 14, lives with her mother, according to Kaur.

    "The rest are all married and live with their husbands," she said, adding that it had been a while since she'd seen Noor Salman, who married Mateen in a Muslim wedding.

    Kaur said she had rarely discussed Mateen with Ekbal Zahi Salman.

    She remembers seeing her friend for the last time the day before the shooting.

    "Her blinds have been drawn since then, I haven’t seen anyone," she said. "Ekbal never goes anywhere … Sometimes I’ll see her when her girls come over."

    Contact Raquel Maria Dillon: raquel.dillon@nbcuni.com and @RaquelMDillon